Robots, storing, cutting and palletizing for a smaller footprint

March 18, 2024
Kasto Maschinenbau builds work cells to accommodate steel distributor’s warehousing and production

Numerous items, small batch sizes—this demands flexible and speedy handling. To offer customers these advantages, steel distributor Hagelauer Dewald relies on an automated high-bay storage system from Kasto (Figure 1). Equipped with the Kastocenter varioplus 2 sawing center, the company can handle processing stages for their customers.

Stepping into the offices of Hagelauer Dewald in Pleidelsheim, Germany, you would never imagine what the buildings next to and behind it hold. Ever since the merger of Hagelauer and Dewald under the umbrella of the Lotter Group, their warehouses and production halls have been bulging at the seams. Due to the overcrowding, the management board decided to construct a new building to make use of every available meter, both horizontally and vertically, within the limited space. Now a 20-meter-high building towers between the administration facilities and the new production halls, accommodating a high-bay warehouse and sawing center (Figure 2).

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"Although demolition and the construction of the new building took place basically amid ongoing operations, we could maintain production throughout the entire building phase," explains Jörg Bayer. As one of two managing directors at Hagelauer Dewald, he helped shape the growth project and offered assistance.

The constructed halls have extensions in all directions, landscaping and the installation of photovoltaic cells on the roofs. Underneath the concrete foundation for the high-bay storage system lies a sustainable concept: in addition to the ground slab, posts were driven into the ground. Not only do these posts carry heavy loads, but they also harness geothermal energy from the ground. "We use this energy for heating and cooling our office building," Bayer explains. "We are committed to sustainability."

High-bay storage system as the core component

Hagelauer Dewald turned to Kasto Maschinenbau, a specialist in storage and sawing technology. The family-owned company located in Achern-Gamshurst, Germany, had already been involved in the preliminary planning stages in 2019. It provided the structural calculations for the roof and wall substructure and the structural calculation of the floor loads for the construction of the foundation onsite. "Kasto knows exactly what and how to build to establish the required stability for the massive weights," Bayer explains. In the 1990s, Kasto demonstrated its expertise by providing the first machines for Hagelauer (Figure 3). Later, a storage system and several Kastovariospeed C15 circular saws were added to the mix, which still perform (Figure 4).

The UniCompact 3.5 honeycomb storage system is the core component of the new building. It has a total storage capacity of nearly 14,000 tonnes; after its completion, it can accommodate 4,000 cassettes, each with a storage capacity of 3.5 tonnes.

"We use this high-bay storage system to stock material and supply the surrounding stations," explains Bayer. There, employees pick the orders and handle the processing by cutting the pieces to length. The fully automatic, operator-free operation of the UniCompact storage system in Pleidelsheim is one of its unique features, enabling it to supply the adjacent fully automated Kastocenter varioplus 2 sawing center with material via special saw cassettes and automatically longitudinal moving carriages.

"Not only was Kasto our first choice for storage systems, but, from the very beginning, it was also our front-runner when selecting new saws," Bayer emphasizes. This enabled Kasto to automate the process from raw-material storage to initial processing to the structured supply of the processed material in loading carriers in one comprehensive machine.

Sawing center for fully automatic pre-cut parts

The Kastocenter and the two fully automated sawing machines enable the steel distributor to automatically cut the materials. The Kastosort robot removes the cut pieces from the circular saw, a Kastovariospeed SC 18, and feeds them into a deburring unit as needed. It then sorts them onto the pallets. The pallet rotation unit provides the robot with a load carrier that precisely fits the material to be sorted (Figure 5).

In addition, the system continuously feeds and unloads full and empty containers in the loading and unloading zone. An added feature is the robot automatically attaches a barcode to the cut pieces (Figure 6). This ensures that all data is then available digitally. The production control documents are even available on the pallets.

Hagelauer Dewald uses the second machine, a Kastotec SC 4 band saw, for large dimensions of up to 260 millimeters in diameter. An apron conveyor positions the cut pieces and pushes them to the desired deposit position, either on a closed table surface or pallets.

Flexibility and speed

"The Kasto sawing center is ideal because it fits perfectly with our item-driven business," explains Bayer. The steel distributor requires maximum flexibility and speed with 100,000 items and 2.5 million saw cuts per year.

Bayer assures there is no doubt that investing in the Kastocenter varioplus 2 has paid off. "We can now provide our customers the exact materials they need. This saves storage space, and their well-paid specialized personnel no longer have to spend time on storage and sawing tasks," Bayer says.

"Our customers want steel in bags," jokes Bayer. In fact, machine manufacturers and other steel fabricators order primarily small quantities from Hagelauer Dewald. More than 60% of all items leave Hagelauer Dewald’s hall on a single pallet or plastic crate, he adds.

The fully automated sawing center can process many different items without any changeover or dwell times. "This quick availability is a major advancement for us,” explains Bayer. “Anything the customer orders today will be delivered tomorrow, regardless of how small the quantities may be."